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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

In March 2000, a suitcase arrived at a children's Holocaust education center in Tokyo, Japan. Hana Brady was written on the outside. Children who saw the suitcase on display were full of questions and the director decided to find the answers.…

Hana’s Suitcase

by Karen Levine

Overall Book Review:

“In their early years no one really noticed or cared that they were different. Soon, though, the fact that they were Jews would become the most important thing about them.”

In Hana’s Suitcase author Karen Levine painstakingly recounts the true story of Hana Brady, a young Jewish girl. In 1942, Hana is separated from her loving Czechoslovakian family by the Nazis and sent to a Jewish ghetto. However, Hana’s journey is not just a story of the Holocaust.  It is a unique and riveting story because of its astonishing ties to the Japanese Holocaust effort (something I was surprised to know even existed). Hana’s Suitcase is not just a biography, but a historical mystery with a remarkable and bittersweet ending. 

The horrors of the Holocaust are seldom appropriate for younger audiences, but Levine pays particular attention to details. The narrative is engaging and quick-paced, yet notably sensitive when discussing delicate topics. I was impressed that key elements of Hana’s story –concentration camps and ghettos– were discussed without sharing too many graphic details. Throughout the book, Levine defines important terminology and uses simple wording. Hana’s Suitcase is an excellent and award-winning work that will educate pre-teens about the Holocaust.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Albert Whitman & Co.

Content Analysis:

There is no profanity or sexual content in this book.

This is a story about the Holocaust, an event defined by its violence. In this book, violence is seldom mentioned, or if it is, the event is stated and not detailed. There is alluding to death by gas chamber.

Mature Subject Matter:

There are several mature themes; however, they are approached from a young or child’s perspective.  These themes include war, death, loss of a parent, concentration camps, suffering, tolerance, peace, prejudice and family.

Alcohol / Drug Use:


Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

My mother was the one who sparked my love of books. Long before school instruction, she sat me down and taught me to read. My childhood was filled with trips to the library and bookmobile to find great books. My first loves were The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Pippi Longstocking series by Astrid Lingren. Now as a mom and speech pathologist, I am constantly looking for good, clean books to use at home and in therapy. I enjoy reading many different genres, but my favorites are usually historical fiction. I married my best friend, the “boy next door”, and we have a beautiful little girl who we often find sprawled out on the floor, flipping through picture books. Together our family likes to swim, run and play tennis. Besides reading, I also love to bake, garden and travel.